On Tuesday 27th September, ethane from US fracking will arrive in Scotland for the first time. Campaigners from both continents attacked bosses at INEOS for their financial gain from the destructive shale gas extraction in Pennsylvania.
Almost 10,000 gas wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania, with a devastating effect on local communities and the environment. One of the companies supplying INEOS with ethane from the Marcellus shale, Range Resources, has been fined millions of dollars for environmental violations and is implicated in a gagging order which involves 2 children. 
INEOS benefitted from millions of pounds of public money in grant and loan funding to help build a storage tank for the fracked ethane at Grangemouth. The chemicals corporation also want to frack for shale gas in the central belt of Scotland and large parts of Northern England. 
Ron Gulla, a former resident of Hickory, Pennsylvania who signed a lease for fracking on his land in 2002 said:
“I have witnessed first hand how the fracking industry has brought permanent damage across the Pennsylvania region, polluted our air, land and water and is destroying our livelihoods. Those living near drilling, infrastructure or waste sites have suffered water contamination, spills, wastewater dumping and gas leaks, as well as multiple health impacts.
My property and life have been destroyed by this industry.
“I don’t know how the harm the fracking industry has caused can ever be corrected or how these injured places will get back their clean water. We must never lose sight of the fact that water is more important than gas.
Karen Feridun, founding member of Pennsylvanians Against Fracking said:
“The 9900 unconventional wells already in the ground in Pennsylvania represent less than a tenth of the number the industry would like to drill. The impacts to the environment, human and animal health, safety, property value, and quality of life have been profound, yet our state government has chosen to put the interests of the industry over those of the people at every turn.
“Every bad idea, from wells placed next to public schools to radioactive drilling waste being used as a road paving material to the construction of ethane crackers, gets its day in the sun. By the time the industry has finished with Pennsylvania, the state will be unrecognisable. Much of what we are losing is irreplaceable, but even that which can be replaced will be the taxpayer’s burden to bear.”
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Head of Campaigns, Mary Church, said:
“It is completely unacceptable to attempt to prop up INEOS’s petrochemicals plants on the back of human suffering and environmental destruction across the Atlantic. The fact that Scottish public money is tied up in this project is disgraceful.
“Setting aside the devastating local impacts of fracking, the climate consequences of extracting yet more fossil fuels are utterly disastrous. If Jim Ratcliffe was really concerned about the future of the Grangemouth plant and its workers he would be planning for its transition to a low carbon model.
“We urge the Scottish Government to act swiftly to ban fracking and start planning seriously for a fair transition to a low carbon economy across all sectors. Fracking should not happen here in Scotland, or anywhere.”
Billionaire INEOS owner Jim Ratcliffe has made clear the company’s plans to become the biggest frackers in the UK. INEOS owns or has a majority stake in all onshore oil and gas licenses in the central belt of Scotland, covering an area of over 700km2, and has over 4,000km2 of license area across the whole of the UK. It was revealed recently that the company’s plans to apply for 30 fracking planning permissions in England this year have suffered a setback, with revised plans to submit 5 applications. The moratorium in Scotland prevents INEOS from fracking in its central belt licenses. The company has called the Scottish Government’s moratorium ‘absurd’. 
Range Resources, one of the companies supplying INEOS with ethane from fracked Marcellus shale gas has a chequered recent history. The company is implicated in gagging orders against children in Pennsylvania (2013); was pursued for a record $8.9 million fine for failing to fix a gas well that polluted groundwater and a stream in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania (2015); was fined $4.15 million for violations at six wastewater impoundments in Washington County, Pennsylvania (2014); has suggested it avoids drilling in rich neighbourhoods (2016); and is alleged to have doctored water test results (2016). 
Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations
Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?
The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.
New Construction Options
One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.
In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.
The Simple Retrofit
From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?
Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.
Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.
Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.
In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.
Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.
It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.
How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions
Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Public Health Crisis
It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.
It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.
Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.
With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.
The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.
With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.